How 8 years of freelancing has worked for me

Mar 18, 2015 · 3 min read

How 8 years of freelancing has worked for me -- Mervi Emilia

LinkedIn told me just a couple of days about my "work anniversary", as I had been freelancing for 8 years. First I thought this was a mistake, it cannot possibly have been such a long time. Then I realised this is true and it's 2015 now. Time flies when you are a freelancer. I did my first freelancing while I was still studying. Back then it was just a side project, something to fill my portfolio and to pay my bread. Later on, after I graduated, it became my first and only source of income, the butter on my bread. I'm not fond of sitting in an office and doing the same thing day after day. I do appreciate my freedom, being my own boss, not having to participate useless time wasting meetings and all that which comes in traditional office work. I like that I can work midnight and sleep midday if that's my thing. I can switch from working to watching television or having a dinner and then get back with working if I please.

When you watch all the loudest self-employed people you might think that's what you need to be in order to work for yourself. It seems like you must be one of those networking, go-getting, video making, six-figures magicians who can enthusiastically sell their services and products. These are only the most visible examples of people who work for themselves. There are many types of us and different things work for us. Of course not being a most enthusiastic networker and self-promoter has made things a bit difficult and there have been times I've been rethinking what I'm supposed to do with my life. The beginning of this year however has been pretty busy, thus at the moment I'm not having second thoughts. I guess the second guessing comes with anything you do in life, so maybe that's not something unique for me or other freelancers. Freelancing is not for you if you need someone to constantly guide you and tell you what to do next. Actually I know I have authority issues and don't feel compelled to bow down before people for their status or title. This is part of the reasons why basic employment doesn't fit me nor it would fit most employers either. Boss me around and I will clamp down completely.

During these years I've struggled with some things. My main struggle has been with trying to make clients understand the value of my services. Many seem to think that creating a website is something you do without thinking and only by pressing some buttons. So it must be really cheap. Unfortunately I did undervalue my work in the beginning and I know many do that. Especially in web design there are lots of those who offer a full website for very low cost. The issue with this is that it makes people think websites are some sort of low cost, low value thing to which you shouldn't put money or effort. Undervaluing your services or products also makes clients to think they can pretty much ask you anything for free. If you did this for low cost, you must do other things for free or low cost too. I continue to struggle with pricing and the value issues, but I've improved. I'm learning to say no. Even though it feels stupid to say no to a project which would pay (usually not much) it can be a very good idea. For your health and for your finances. Taking all the odd low pay jobs hasn't ever improved my finances and they have only caused me stress.

Freelancing and being self employed doesn't work for everyone. It's definitely my thing. It requires, more than anything else, a huge amount of independence. Most usually you must set your own prices and working times. I don't even need a separate working area and I basically can work from and in anywhere. That's a plus for a freelancer too, not being too obsessed with having an office and separating work and home. While sometimes I stress out because of certain jobs I do, freelancing has definitely helped with my health. I've learned not to "should" as much as I did before. I've noticed that I don't do things the same way as everyone else does and it's good. I've found out that there are no right or wrong ways to live your life. You don't have to do what everyone else does. I've also learned that happiness and being content doesn't come from living the life by standards someone else has set. Others may enjoy their stable pay check and sitting in an office. I don't.


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